Show ContentsMidkiff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Midkiff is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in Yorkshire, where the family was found since the early Middle Ages. The name is of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin, deriving from two possible sources. Firstly, such Old English terms as mete-corn, meaning "corn for food," and mete-cu, meaning "cow that is to furnish food," make it conceivable that the name Midkiff is derived from an Old English word "mete-calf," meaning "a calf being fattened up for slaughtering." In this instance, the name would have been originally borne by a calf farmer. Alternatively, the name may come from Middleton Calf Top, a settlement on "The Calf," a hill located at the western boundary of Yorkshire; an early inhabitant of this settlement was known as Medecalf.

Early Origins of the Midkiff family

The surname Midkiff was first found in Yorkshire, where the first bearer of the name was said to be William Medecalf de Dent, who lived in Middleton Calf Top during the 12th century when the boundaries of the new counties of Westmorland, Cumberland, and Yorkshire West Riding were formed.

The name also appeared on the census rolls where one of the earliest known bearers, Adam Medecalf, appeared in these rolls in 1301. There seems to be a historical relationships with the Turnbulls that goes back at least 500 years. In most cases the surnames were seen side by side as seen in the humorous quote: "Mr. Metcalf ran off on the meeting of a cow, With pale Mr. Turnbull behind him" [1]

Another source claims this as the "traditional" origin of the name: "One John Strong having seized a mad bull by the nostrils with his left hand, killed the beast with his right, and being afterwards questioned on the subject of his prowess, modestly declared that he had simply met a calf. From that time he acquired the surname of Metcalf!" [2]

This same source has another whimsical story: "Another version of the story is that 'two men being in the woods together at evening, seeing a four-footed animal coming towards them,' one said, 'Have you not heard of lions in these woods?' The other replied that he had, but had never seen any such thing. The animal coming near, one ran away, while the other resolved to meet it; which proving to be a red calf, he that met it got the name of Metcalfe, and he that ran away that of Lightfoot!" [2]

There was a wide variety of spellings used by the family is the early days. The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, include: Willelmus Miducroft; and Ricardus de Meducroft.

Another authority claims "It is a remarkable fact that I cannot find Metcalf in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of of 1379. But the Meducrofts are there. Probably the corruption had not yet taken place." [1]

By the 16th and 17th century, the name was "so numerous are they that there is scarcely a town or village in the North Riding [of Yorkshire] which cannot own an inhabitant of the name; in truth, in 1607 the Metcalfes were accounted the most numerous family in England; even in 1555 it is recorded that Sir Christopher Metcalfe, of Nappa Hall, near Askrigg, being High Sheriff of Yorkshire, was attended by 300 horsemen, all of his own family and name." [3]

Early History of the Midkiff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Midkiff research. Another 84 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1556, 1717, 1810, 1785, 1846, 1843 and are included under the topic Early Midkiff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Midkiff Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Midkiff are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. The variations of the name Midkiff include: Metcalfe, Medcalfe, Metcalf, Medcalf, Midkiff and many more.

Early Notables of the Midkiff family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Christopher Metcalfe (c.1556), High Sheriff of Yorkshire, who met the Judges of Assize in York on horseback with 300 mounted men of his own name and kindred, John Metcalf (1717-1810), known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough, a blind British...
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Midkiff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Midkiff Ranking

In the United States, the name Midkiff is the 6,852nd most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Midkiff family to Ireland

Some of the Midkiff family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 71 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Midkiff migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Midkiff or a variant listed above:

Midkiff Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Henry F. Midkiff, aged 33, who landed in America, in 1919
  • Jean Ruth Midkiff, aged 9, who immigrated to the United States, in 1923
  • Karl Midkiff, aged 11, who settled in America, in 1923
  • Anna Hawkins Midkiff, aged 40, who landed in America, in 1923
  • Harold M. Midkiff, aged 6, who settled in America, in 1923

Contemporary Notables of the name Midkiff (post 1700) +

  • Adam Midkiff, American actor
  • Marcia Midkiff, American screenwriter
  • Richard James "Dick" Midkiff (1914-1956), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Ezra Millington Midkiff (1882-1957), American Major League Baseball third baseman
  • Dale Alan Midkiff (b. 1959), American stage and screen actor
  • Violet Midkiff, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from West Virginia, 1996; Presidential Elector for West Virginia, 1996 [5]
  • David E. Midkiff, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Virginia, 1996 (alternate), 2008 [5]

  1. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 23) . Retrieved from on Facebook